Words, words, words… I think I’m getting tired of them and I think my son might be too.
As my husband likes to point out – I wasn’t born with the editing gene and neither were large parts of my family. I marvel at his ability to sum up any situation or episode – swiftly, succinctly and with integrity.
Fewer words is what I aim for.
For clarity. For integrity. For honesty.
When do I use too many words?
Well … Often. Here are a few situations where I am trying to cut down:
When he is sad. Or hurting. Then he just needs comforting.
When he is playing. Especially when he is in his flow zone, then he just needs to be left to his own devices and good company (except if course when sports casting).
When we need to leave the house/playground, eat, drink, get dressed and so on. Actually … I ask myself how often do we ever really need to do anything?
When he finds something that is totally absorbing. Like noticing a spider in a hedge, or spotting a blue truck, or a crane, crane, Crane!! CRANE!!! Then he just needs my attention.
When he is eating – at dinner for instance. He knows when he doesn’t like something or when he is full or wants more, he just needs my trust in him.
There can be a lot of acknowledgement in silence. Just catching his eye, or touching him gently. In smiling.
Let’s take one of these situations and dissect it: My son needs comforting. He doesn’t need words or even explanations. When he is sad or hurting, he just needs comforting. Period. Plus the acknowledgement of his world and feelings. Chances are he doesnt know why he fell of that log or bashed himself on the head, or spilled all the milk all over himself so there is no point in asking for an explanation. He won’t be listening anyway. His little body is so full of feelings (surprise, sadness, hurt, anger, frustration to name but a few regulars.) his ears are as tightly shut as his eyes. Only his mouth is open to let out the sobs and cries.
So now I find it best – and most efficient – just to comfort. I put my arms around him – if he will let me, and hold him. Sometimes I rock him. He likes me to stand up so he is really held tightly – suspended really.
‘Oh dear, my little love.’ Repeated or a variation of this, if necessary. Perhaps adding ‘ That looked liked it really hurt’ But not more. It is the tone of voice that carries the most weight of the sounds anyway. It is a verbal hug. The sound of soothing.
In any of these situations there’s a not so thin line between explaining and lecturing… (wrote the daughter of two teachers. – I should know.)
Words can crowd and cloud the space between us. Curiously I write this as my son’s language is coming on apace. This week I estimate 80%ish of his blubber being actual words that I might be able to understand. Last week it was 70%ish. When he gets it wrong, I try not to correct him too much but ask him either to repeat himself or what he meant. For instance ‘mee wan aish’ he might proclaim and I can ask ‘does Digger want an ice cream?’ Or ‘does Digger want that ice cube?’ Always followed by a long pause. I’m practising pauses. If I can master them, I hope to raise a son who is better at listening that my family is. Me included.
So many messages are lost in words.
For the sake of clarity, I’ll try to sum this blog up like this:
In parenting fewer words will probably do. Not least in the preverbal world of a toddler. So choose them well I tell myself.
I’m trying, I’m trying!